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Antibiotics 101

👤by AP 0 comments 🕔Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Mary thinks she may have a bladder infection. She makes the call to her doctor and is able get an appointment to come in and give a urine sample. Sure enough, bladder infection. Her doctor prescribes an antibiotic for the infection. Mary goes to the pharmacy, fills the prescription and as she is driving home, begins to think of questions that she should have asked her doctor about the antibiotic.

This scenario has run through many patients' minds. What are the side effects of the antibiotic? How soon should I begin to feel better? What if I don't feel better after 4 or 5 days? When should I call my doctor? Should I be concerned about a rash or other side effects that develop while taking the antibiotic?

Antibiotics 101

Antibiotics are a class of drugs that treat bacterial infections by stopping growth of bacteria or killing the bacteria directly. It's important to remember that antibiotics are ineffective in treating infections causes by viruses, which include the majority of colds, sore throats (with the exception of streptococcus-induced, or so-called "strep throat"), coughs, and flu-like illnesses.

In fact, taking antibiotics when they are not really necessary will not speed your recovery and can even contribute to a problem known as antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance refers to the capacity of many bacteria to become resistant to a particular antibiotic so that it is no longer effective against these bacteria. It is known that the increasing use of antibiotics when they really aren't needed has contributed to this problem and has led to the evolution of many bacterial strains that no longer respond to treatment with common antibiotics.

The evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus [methicillin-resistant Staph aureus or MRSA, and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)] has received much attention in recent years, and a new strain of the bacterium Clostridium difficile, which can cause intestinal illness in people taking antibiotics for other conditions, has arisen which is much more difficult to treat and is associated with a higher death rate.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/14/2016

Medical Author:

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medical Editor:

William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Article Credits / Source

AP / MedicineNet.com

AP wrote this story for MedicineNet.com. MedicineNet.com provides up to the minute breaking health news. Click here to view this full article from MedicineNet.com.

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